By: Nicholas Kusnetz
The coming century will likely bring dangerous and dramatic changes to the planet's oceans, with ever strengthening storms, annual bleaching of almost all coral reefs, loss of biodiversity and severe impacts on fisheries and aquaculture unless humans slash greenhouse gas emissions.
These are the findings of a comprehensive review of the effects of warming oceans, issued Monday by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and compiled by more than 80 scientists from 12 countries. The report chronicles how the seas have absorbed the vast majority of the excess heat trapped in the atmosphere by carbon emissions in recent decades, and how that energy is already altering the planet's weather systems and ecology, from deep ocean trenches to alpine glaciers.
“Ocean warming is one of this generation's greatest hidden challenges—and one for which we are completely unprepared,” Inger Andersen, IUCN's director general, said in a statement. “The only way to preserve the rich diversity of marine life, and to safeguard the protection and resources the ocean provides us with, is to cut greenhouse gas emissions rapidly and substantially.”